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-   -   Is "Secondary" Actually Worth It? (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/secondary-actually-worth-343744/)

gamoss317 07-25-2012 10:13 PM

Is "Secondary" Actually Worth It?
I saw one user say that he suggests not even moving the beer to a secondary fermenter b/c it increases your risk of infection. He says to leave the beer in a single 5 or 6 gal glass carboy for 3 weeks minimum then bottle if it has reached FG. I know a secondary fermenting vessel will clear the beer up a little bit, but is it really worth it? Also...if I only use one vessel, I can make 2 beers at a time! I'm not sold on the idea. Any opinions?

krazydave 07-25-2012 10:24 PM

I very rarely ever rack anything to secondary and never have issues with clarity.
The only time I will rack is if I'm going to rack on top of something like fruit or if I need to free up a larger carboy for another batch. Other than that, I'll put it in primary and leave it there until it's ready. I'll even bulk age in primary for months and have never had any issues.

Revvy 07-25-2012 10:24 PM

This is the most discussed topic on here, it has been readily covered. I suggest you read THIS thread, it's become the "uber discussion" on this topic thread. Every discussion, question, answer, citation, etch is in that thread....

To Secondary or Not? John Palmer and Jamil Zainasheff Weigh In .

Many of us leave our beer in primary for a month minimum then bottle.....We find out beers to be clearer and better tasting.

I suggest you read that thread, and experiment for yourself, and make up your own mind.

There's thousands of threads on here already, where folks have ventured their opinions, and argued incessantly, but it ultimately comes down to what works for you......Heck this topic has come up 4 times alone already today.

HootHootHoot 07-25-2012 10:27 PM

You've opened a can of worms. Not to be "that guy" but if you just search for "secondary fermentation neccessary" or "worth it" you'll come up with many different threads.

Regardless, I started brewing with Better Bottle plastic carboys (5 and 6 gal). I always went to a secondary. My 5 gallon suffered a crack in it, and my 6 gallon followed, so I purchased a 6 gallon glass carboy and did away with secondary fermentation. I can't say I have noticed anything bad with my beers since doing only a primary fermentation.

For ales, it's not neccessary at all. If you want to "clear" your beer, just use irish moss or whirfloc tablets. From what I read, for lagers it's absolutely neccessary

KeythL 07-25-2012 10:31 PM

There are opinions across the spectrum on this (and anything else related to the subject of homebrewing). I agree to a point with the person you've quoted. If your sanitation practices are sound the potential for infection are negligible and shouldn't in and of it self be the determining factor on whether or not to secondary. I see the use of a secondary as a tool, sometimes it's called for, other times it isn't. Dry hopping, late additions (fruit, etc), or recipe\styles requiring a lengthy aging (assuming no keg or desire to age in keg) would all be a reason to utilize a secondary. American, Indian Pale, English, Irish, Scottish, et al, ales...not necessary.


certaut 07-25-2012 10:34 PM

I almost never use a secondary since I quit making jet fuel( avb 8-9%). If you control the temp and don't use crap yeast, most of the ales I do will puke for 2 or 3 days before settling down and usually by day 5, I can put on a airlock. at day 7 I will cold crash to 35°for a day or two (if you look at the beer you will see it clearing). Then I keg it, pump it up to 50psi and it's ready in about 6 hours..
p.s. I dry hop in the keg.

Yooper 07-25-2012 10:35 PM


Originally Posted by gamoss317 (Post 4280099)
I know a secondary fermenting vessel will clear the beer up a little bit,

I'm not picking on you at all- but how do you "know a secondary vessel will clear the beer up a little bit?" I mean, moving the beer from one vessel to another won't magically make yeast or suspended proteins fall to the bottom of the next vessel, any more than leaving it in place will. After all, that's gravity that does the work.

I guess what I'm saying is that the basically premise of moving to a clearing vessel is flawed, when you think about it.

I'm a winemaker, and in winemaking there IS a secondary fermenter, as fermentation does occur in the next vessel. Usually, a wine primary is "open" and moved to the secondary for an airlock. But in the case of making beer, typically the fermenter is airlocked from the beginning. So they are different processes, and calling the clearing vessel in beermaking a "secondary" is a misnomer. There is no "secondary fermentation" going on in most cases, and instead in a brewery the clearing vessel is called a "bright tank".

The reason breweries use a bright tank at all is so that a new batch can be started in the fermenting vessel, plus they can then drop the temperature of the bright tank to clear the beer fast. We can do the same thing, by simply sticking the fermenter in the fridge. Also, in a big brewery, the pressure exerted on the yeast of the bottom of the fermenter is considerable while most homebrewers are doing 5-10 gallon batches which don't have the same weight. That means that we don't really have to worry about the yeast cells rupturing from the pressure on them from all of the weight, so it sort of negates the need for a bright tank for that reason.

What I'm saying is that whether a beer is in the first vessel or in a clearing vessel, it won't clear any faster and there really isn't any reason to move it for most beers.

KISS Brew 07-25-2012 10:37 PM


Originally Posted by Yooper (Post 4280161)
There is no "secondary fermentation" going on in most cases, and instead in a brewery the clearing vessel is called a "bright tank".

It's worth mentioning that the airlock activity that one might see after racking to a secondary is rarely, if ever, fermentation. This is a point of confusion for many.

AR-Josh 07-26-2012 12:58 AM

To me, secondary only helps with clarity. It gets rid of the layer of yeast and trub at the bottom. That helps clarity when you dont have that thick layer at the bottom. My opinion.

duckredbeard 07-26-2012 06:23 AM

Before I started kegging I would do a secondary. Now I let it ferment out and settle. Once the top starts to clear out, I transfer to a keg and pressurize to about 15 and stick it in the fridge. After a few days I drop the pressure to just enough to pull a half pint then repressurize. I do this every couple of days until it seems the yeast is gone. Then I jack the pressure up to about 25 for 2 days, then back to 12 for a week. Works for me.

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